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How can I strengthen my dog’s back?

Updated: May 12, 2023

Suppose you have an older dog, or your pooch is recovering from surgery. In that case, you might be exploring ways to improve their health – and, more specifically, strengthen their back, especially if they’ve got a spine condition or injury.

Dog and owner overlooking water

First though, before you look at introducing strengthening techniques for your furry friend, there are several things you can do that will complement any treatment or exercise you put in place:

  • If they are overweight, you should consider changing their diet. Excess weight will strain a dog’s back and potentially cause additional problems that could be avoided.

  • Limit jumping, especially if they are recovering from back surgery, as this could worsen their condition. It might be that you need to keep an eye on your dog around the house during the early stages of recovery to prevent further injury.

  • Invest in a well-fitted harness to make walks as comfortable as possible for your dog while ensuring the right muscles are used when exercising.

Now let's have a look at ways that you can strengthen your dog's back:


Getting your dogs in the water is one of the best ways to help strengthen their back. If you're not familiar with hydrotherapy, it basically involves a dog swimming or walking in shallow water, and in most cases, on a treadmill.

Being in warm water teamed with putting your dog in a weightless environment will support strengthening and conditioning. Additionally, the resistance of the water will help build muscle.

Home exercise program

Cookie stretches are a nice place to start for dogs with a history of back problems. This involves getting your dog to stretch around for a treat at both their hips, back paws and between their front legs. We can increase the difficulty slowly by elevating the front legs or back legs or by doing these exercises on an unstable surface.

Starting on a flat stable surface should be OK for most dogs but if your dog is in pain or is sore after cookie stretches then you should seek advice from a rehabilitation expert.

Walking across uneven surfaces

A really simple way to help strengthen your dog’s back is to encourage them to walk over uneven surfaces. This could be on sand, or you could try making your own uneven surface yourself. Put a load of pet-friendly and safe objects spread out in the garden – for example, old pillows and inflatable pool rafts – ready for your dog to walk across. This is a sure way to help strengthen their core muscles and back.

Be watchful

Back issues in dogs are no different to those in people. They can flare up if they overdo it or they are doing the wrong exercise. If your dog is showing any signs of pain then stop immediately and get in touch with your vet or rehabilitation expert.

Get in touch with the experts

To ensure your dog is receiving the most effective treatment possible, it’s always best to get in touch with the experts first.

Balance Vet provides dog rehabilitation in Brisbane, as well as also soon offering dog hydrotherapy. Our well-trained experts tailor each rehab package around your pet's needs, with the ultimate goal of helping to improve strength and general health.

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